Palestinian government meets in Gaza for first time in three years

Michele Moreno
October 5, 2017

The West Bank-based Palestinian prime minister crossed into the Gaza Strip on Monday in a major drive towards reconciliation between Hamas and the mainstream Fatah party, a decade after the Islamist group seized the territory in a civil war.

Hamas has had de facto control of Gaza ever since, while Fatah consolidated its power in the West Bank and positioned itself as the sole legitimate political representative of the Palestinian people.

The Palestinian unity government is set to assume political and administrative responsibility for the blockaded Gaza Strip, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announced Monday after arriving to the strip for a highly-anticipated visit.

The Palestinian unity government convened in the Gaza Strip yesterday for the first time since it was formed in 2014.

Washington, which is seeking to relaunch the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, welcomed the return of the PA government to Gaza.

After Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates imposed economic sanctions against Qatar, Hamas' main financial supporter, over allegations of supporting regional terrorist groups, Hamas made a decision to dissolve its shadow government in Gaza last month.

Later he met with Hamas's overall leader Ismail Haniya and its Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar, and is expected to chair a cabinet meeting. Pressuring Hamas to loosen its grip on Gaza, he halted payments for Israeli-supplied electricity to the enclave in June, a step that has led to lengthy, daily blackouts.

However Hamas has refused Mr Abbas's demand to disarm its military wing.

In a pre-recorded speech played at the meeting, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi backed the talks.

However, Haniyeh said that Hamas is prepared to discuss "how and when to resist" with Fatah and other Palestinian groups.

Hamas ousted the PA in 2007, but recently agreed to dissolve what has been seen as its rival administration and make way for a unity government.

Israeli Premier Benyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday spoke out against the recent reconciliation agreement between Hamas and al-Fatah.

But it warned any Palestinian government must accept Israel's right to exist.

Haniyeh noted that in the shadow of the new government in the Gaza Strip, "Two weapons will continue to exist: One in the hands of the police and the second in the hands of the resistance".

"The division cripples the Palestinians from being able to move forward in a constructive manner in achieving the goal of returning back to negotiations and implementing a two-state solution", UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov told AFP.

The Trump administration's global negotiations representative, Jason Greenblatt, called on the Palestinians on Monday to recognize Israel and commit to nonviolence, while applauding the Palestinian reconciliation efforts amid the latest round of renewed US-led peace efforts in the region.

Other reports by Insurance News

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